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What you need to know about the beefed-up Facebook Graph

By Jenna Cyprus     Dec 30, 2014 in Technology
Have you ever tried to track down an old Facebook conversation, only to send up lost in your own timeline? What if you could find it by simply typing in a few keywords from the relevant status updates?
Facebook has been rolling out updated keyword search capabilities, along with an new feature called Graph Search, for a limited number of mobile users. These tools are meant to help you find previous posts quickly and get new, interesting data about the contacts you have in your friends list.
Using Keywords
It can be a little tricky to find the keyword search for the first time on Facebook for desktop and mobile devices. For example, if you type in "spiced rum cider recipe" to find an old post that your aunt wrote last holiday season, the immediate results that will auto-populate the search dropdown will include Events, Pages, and Public Group pages that include the relevant keywords.
In order to really dig into status updates, you'll need to type in the search query and then move your mouse down toward the very last drop-down selection, where the keywords appear in bold next to a magnifying glass. Once you click this selection, you'll be able to view old status updates containing the relevant keywords, highlighted in blue.
The keyword search seems pretty thorough so far. For example, it you type in the name of a city, it will also display status updates made from that particular location, if the user had their location settings turned on at the time. On both the desktop and mobile versions, you can further filter the search results by selecting People, Photos, Pages, Places, and more.
Graph Search
Select users might notice that they're able to test out Facebook's latest search feature, Graph, which allows users to get instant visualizations of data. For example, if you type in the query "Restaurants in Honolulu that my friends of been to," you'll get to see a map pinpointing eateries that your friends have checked into.
So far, the program is in beta, however mobile users report that Graph Search has been appearing on the smartphones and tablets of a limited amount of users. However, some bloggers have discovered that you can get some very interesting results by tweaking the search options. For example, the Actual Facebook Graph Searches blog reveals that you can actually whittle down thousands of Facebook users to create some embarrassing and offensive lists, such as "Married people who like Prostitutes," and "Employers of people who like racism." Essentially, Facebook returns the search results based on data pulled from people's "Like" clicks and public employment information.
You can currently access a limited version Facebook Graph on the desktop website — just type in queries such as "Books my friends have read" or "Friends who like sushi." If you're one of the lucky few to have gained this feature on mobile this December, then you'll see a splash page that says, "New! Graph Search is here" that appears when you log into the updated app. When you begin to type a search query, you'll see additional drop down menu filters for "People...," Photos of...," and "Posts by...".
Instead of typing out these filters directly, you can create your own graph search by following Facebook's clickable suggestions. For example, once you select "People," Facebook will suggest filters such as "who attended," "who work at," and "who were born before." These automatic suggestions can lead you into queries that you didn't even know you were curious about.
Potential Adjustments
While marketers have been able to key into our information and advertise to Facebook users for quite some time, tools like Graph Search give everyday users greater power over the data we voluntarily share. This could lead to an eye-opening era in social media, in which Facebook users discover just how much of their personal lives are visible online.
So far, there isn't a set date for Facebook's Graph Search functionality to be released fully on mobile devices. According to a blog post by Facebook engineer Ashoat Tevosyan, "With one billion new posts added every day, the posts index contains more than one trillion total posts, comprising hundreds of terabytes of data. Indexing these posts and building a system to return real-time results has been a significant engineering challenge..." So it doesn't seem too surprising that Facebook will continue to slowly reveal this feature to mobile users.
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